The Repair Shop presenter is one of 8 million UK adults who find the act of reading ‘pure pain’. Can six months with a new teacher change all that?

There was a programme, many years ago, about a specialist teacher and a class of mature learners who fell short of full literacy. It was extraordinary to watch as the teacher applied different teaching methods to help his students. The majority just needed reteaching in the standard way now they had matured and left childhood restlessness – or miseries – behind. Others needed more specialist help, which gradually winnowed the students down until there was just one left. She was desperate to be able to read, and convinced she never would. Her brain resisted all attempts to unlock the mystery for her, until the teacher realised the student was a kinaesthetic learner and had wooden letters made for her. She ran her hands over them and understood immediately what teachers had been trying to tell her for 40 years.

There was no moment of such high drama in Jay Blades: Learning to Read at 51 (BBC One), but the punchy directness of the Repair Shop presenter and furniture restorer kept things lively. For people like him, Blades explained – one of the 8 million adults in the UK who struggle with reading – the process is “like giving yourself a headache … Pure pain.”

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